Of OFWs and Kite Runners

The Kite RunnerThe Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of how to forgive and redeem yourself in the middle of war, of change, and of forgotten land. Hosseini wanted us to see the story of the setting, emphasizing that we should be grateful of our own country.

Review and Reflections:

I don't know how Hassan gets the kite, or where the direction the falling kite is going to, but he just knew.

Just like Hassan, it is how we should love our motherland. No explanations, no complaints, no inhibitions, we just know.

Hosseini takes his first journey as a contemporary fiction writer tied with the story of the setting, of the history of Afganistan, of how the society, culture and heritage was formed before the war came and how it was torn apart by the war. Amir and Hassan grew together during the end of the monarchy, lived their adolescence in a short-lived republic, and lived their own family lives - one right outside of the war, while the other one is in the middle of it.

Amir wished to be a writer when he grew up someday, which is very much different from Hassan's desire - to be with Amir forever; be a friend as well as a brother. When I read the snippets of Amir reading the story to Hassan, and Hassan mentioned about onions as the way to be rich, I realized, why do our leaders think of it that way? Why do we have to complicate things for the sake of personal enrichment? Why do we seek for ironies, and why is there a need to hurt ourselves? Like these Afghan boys, we also have the same sentiments in our society: discrimination, rich versus poor, a chance to redeem and a chance to be more than who we are now.

Paired with the events of the Kite tournament and of Assef and his peers with angst to all forms of Hazaras, it was Amir's defining moment: to take the courage to run and save him, or to run away.

Amir's defining moment made me remember one of my interactions with the Filipinos in London. One sunny sunday after the morning mass in Westminster Chapel, I was called by a Pinay, not by name, not by a "hey!" or even a shout, but by our most-famous summons: PSSST!

When I approached her, she immediately asked if I were a Pinay too. When I concurred she quickly introduced me to her friends who are taking their breakfast. They are OFWs, who are celebrating their day off from working Monday to Friday as nurses and Saturdays as apartment cleaners. Few introductions, few tips on roaming the city, but 15 minutes later they are spilling out their sentiments of our country. They are not going back without their cash, not going back unless they have their substitutes (i.e. sons and daughters to accompany them, or sisters/brothers to take their place) or not coming back at all. And I thought, what about the place they left behind? What of their families their left behind? What of their history and heritage? As I listen to their stories I cannot imagine why some of our own people say some harsh things about the motherland. When will you come back? Is it when you have more funds now compared to then? Is it when a family member is dying and wanted to see you as a dying wish? WHEN?

That is why there is a Hassan in every Amir. That is why Hosseini wants us to see courage and gratitude and peace and struggle in Hassan. If we can only think of ourselves and not also of the others we are bound to feel lost, to feel afraid, to feel guilt.

And again hearing the sentiments of kapwa Pinays, I want to be their Hassan. I want to be an example of a Pinay who believes in becoming better, that there is still a festival no matter how cold the winter is. That there is hope no matter how wretched the city is. That there is a motherland for them to return to - warts and all. I want to be a kapwa Pinay who pulls them up and out of that mentality. Because who is to call them back? It will never be the British men, it will be one of us.

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